THE RFU Council has today voted in favour of extending the Gallagher Premiership to 14 teams from the start of the 2022/23 season, with automatic relegation scrapped until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Once the league is expanded to 14 teams, in which one side will be promoted from the Greene King IPA Championship, there will then be a year of no promotion or relegation in order to "allow clubs to plan with greater certainty and supporting the recently promoted clubs in making the transition between leagues."

Following the conclusion of the 2023/24 season, there will be a play-off in which the club finishing bottom of the Premiership and the winner of the Championship (subject to that club meeting the required minimum standards), with the result to decide which club plays in the Premiership during the following season.

The other changes that will now be introduced include:

  • From August 2024, the intention is to move to a position where there is a mandatory England Qualified Players (EQPs) system under which Premiership clubs must have a minimum of 15 EQPs in each match-day squad and the end of the foreign player rule to provide better England player development opportunities while giving greater flexibility for Premiership clubs to select non-EQP players of any nationality. 
  • Increased preparation time for the England men’s squad ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup as a result of an earlier end to the Premiership season in May 2023.
  • A commitment by the RFU and PRL to maintain current levels of funding to the Championship until the end of the PGA in 2024, providing a greater level of certainty for member clubs.